Updated with Comment on the end:
Contemplating the big trends for the future, I decided to avoid the “technologies” and think about the behind the scenes processing that is occuring. The concept of “incidental curiosity” keeps coming to the forefront of my thinking. What I notice happening whenever 2 or more people get together is their need to BE INFORMED about everything and anything. No matter how trivial, the internet has come to a point where we can inquire about any random idea, person, or concept that occurs to us. I have decided to call this incidental curiosity, but if you do a “google search” you will only find 100 entries and they are unrelated.
* Two people get together to chat. One happens to mention her digital camera lens shows streaks so the other leans over and taps the computer to pull up some hints.
* Teenagers are mulling over what to do. One asks what movies are playing and someone grabs their cellphone to check. Somebody else asks what so-and-so is doing, so another person pulls up their myspace account to check on where they’re gathering. Somebody else wonders if that game is still on so they check.
* A family is grouped around the tv watching Men in Trees when someone says, “I think that’s the actress who was involved with DeGeneres.” Somebody checks quickly on the internet.
* During Christmas eve services wax is spilled on a skirt, a group of ladies recalls helpful hints involving turpentine and someone wonders if there isn’t a newer solution. One offers to check and get back to them.
* Kids are watching TV and a commercial comes on with the web address. They have nothing better to do so wander over to check it out.
* Husband and wife are watching news commentary and feel like there is more to the story than shown, so they log on to TV website.
* One Scrabble tile is missing but I can’t recall which letter it is so I can sub from the two other sets I have. Someone out there must have developed a list, so I’ll just search quick to find it.
* While sitting at the Belcourt Theatre for an Alfred Hitchcock presentation of The Lady Vanishes, I wonder where I’ve seen that Dame before. Quick call home to children to pull up on screen before the movie starts and I can stop wondering. Comment to husband, just think years ago I would have had to actually go to the public library and spend hours finding this information. Too bad we don’t have librarians searching on demand for us on the other end of the phone so I wouldn’t have to depend upon the listening abilities of my teenagers.
* Husband sits at the computer watching TV and simultaneously browsing wikipedia just to see what’s new. Whatever thought crosses his mind, he looks it up.
* Wife listens to lyrics of song and can’t understand a line. Logs on to numerous websites of lyrics to satisfy curiosity.
* Teen comes home in middle of watching TV Movie and wants to catch up. Logs on to TV episode guides to gain background knowledge.
All ways to be informed. None vitally important. Mostly random thoughts or incidentals, but all provoked that spark of curiosity. All occurred this past month in my house.
How can I take advantage of this trend to provide the instruction to my elementary students to satisfy their incidental curiosities and maintain the library role? Should I even worry about the libraries role in satisfying incidental curiosity?
Comment from Doug Johnson (the spaminator has gone crazy so I am simply putting this in the body):
I am so happy you found a name for this phenomenon. I wrote about it at the beginning of the school year and didn’t know what to call it.
This past weekend I looked for the following information:
Rules for playing the Barrel of Monkeys game.
The name of the actor who played Pea Eye Parker in the TV miniseries Streets of Laredo.
A depiction of a yawk yawk in Australian Aboriginal folklore.
I found all this information quite handily without leaving the family room. Without leaving my recliner, to be honest. Having a laptop computer and wireless Internet access has changed the way I watch television and read books. It’s changed the conversations I have with the LWW. It’s changed the way I participate in meetings, workshops and classes. When any question or topic comes up, I can get information from the “datasphere” to which I am always connected.”
This will (or is) having a profound impact on the field of librarianship. We need to seriously be asking: What do they need US for?